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Cuban Dissident Guillermo Fariñas Ends Hunger Strike, Citing International Support

Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas has ended his 23rd hunger strike after 54 days, calling it a “victory” after reports circulated that the European Union is considering making any economic deals with Cuba contingent on the communist government respecting human rights.

In a statement on their official webpage, Fariñas’s organization, the United Antitotalitarian Forum (FANTU), announced that Fariñas had begun to drink water again following the news of a “Fariñas Amendment” being proposed in the European Parliament.

“The totalitarian Castro regime’s violence against its population has been put to the judgment of global public opinion, which creates opportunities for other initiatives on the international stage,” the group’s members write. “This is a victory for the hunger and thirst strike our national coordinator began last July 20, to protest the violence of Castro’s repressors against the Cuban people.”

Fariñas himself told Miami’s El Nuevo Herald he was extremely pleased by the international attention to his hunger strike. “We never thought that this would transcend the way it did,” he said, speaking via telephone from his home in Santa Clara, central Cuba. “It is an achievement, a victory and most importantly, this hunger strike achieved the union of both exiles and Cuban dissidents here.”

What exactly the European Union has done to address Fariñas’s hunger strike remains unclear, however. In its official statement, FANTU claims that the EU has named Fariñas — recipient of the EU’s 2010 Andrei Sakharov Prize for Human Rights Activism — an “advisor” regarding human rights in Cuba and is considering the passage of a “Fariñas amendment” which would require any business deals with Cuba to consider the human right abuses on the island. Multiple EU spokesmen have not been able to confirm that the amendment has been passed, however, much less that it exists.

An EU representative in Washington told the Nuevo Herald that the vote on the amendment was scheduled for Wednesday. EU officials in Cuba told the AP and the AFP that they had no information on such an amendment.

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) has issued a press release claiming the Fariñas amendment does not exist yet and would likely be debated in November, according to EU officials speaking to CANF.

EU head Martin Schulz did send a letter to Fariñas personally, encouraging him to end his hunger strike and preserve his health. The letter, Babalú Blog reports, “promised that he would take up the issue of human rights in the Castro Kingdom in the Parliament of the European Union.”

Fariñas began his hunger strike on July 20 after being beaten and tortured by Castro police for asking about the health of a political prisoner at a local police station. In a video announcing the hunger strike, Fariñas said police beat him and pulled his tongue out of his mouth “until it was black.”

He demanded Raúl Castro announce an end to the use of violence against political dissidents publicly, or he would continue his hunger strike “until the last consequences.” He was hospitalized four times during the hunger strike, but only after losing consciousness, and he refused to stay in the hospital after awakening.

Fariñas stated in his last visit to a hospital that he believed the government had “decided to let me die,” as no one had attempted to force feed him (a human rights violation the government has committed in the past) rather than cede to his demands.

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